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Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

Lately, I’ve been playing more single-ticket video keno as opposed to multi-card games, such as Four Card Keno and 20-Card Keno.

Part of the reasoning is economic: You can bet 80 cents on a single card 9-spot, hoping to catch 8-of-9 with a payoff of $3,760, or play 80 cents on Four Card Keno (20 cents per card) and shoot for an 8-of-9 payoff of $940.

Of course, you have more chances to hit the jackpot playing Four Card Keno, but catching the higher jackpot is a good reason to stick it out longer at the straight keno game.

In order to compensate, many players like to play the smaller tickets, such as 5- and 6-spot cards. The odds aren’t as insurmountable and the payoffs are decent.

That’s one of the reasons why the 5-spot and 6-spot cards are so popular. After all, these players have a good chance of hitting a decent payoff (about $800 and $1,600 for a solid five or six, respectively, for four quarters bet). They also have enough “lower level” payoffs – four out of five, four out of six, five out of six, etc. – to ensure there is a return of credits so players aren’t always feeding the bill collectors.

The seven- and eight-spot games also offer good odds, especially for catching the “consolation” jackpot, which is 6-out-of-7 in the 7-spot game (which pays $400 for four quarters at odds of about 1300-1), and 7-out-of-8 in the 8-spot game (a payoff of $1,652 for four quarters at odds of about 6200-1).

Of course, the big attraction of the seven- and eight-spot, as well as the higher-number games, is the chance of hitting a lottery-like jackpot or skyrocketing progressive. And, isn’t that what most of us want!

Toward that end, the 9-spot game, in my estimation, offers the best of both worlds. (Incidentally, there are 9-spot progressives, as well as 8-spot and 10-spot in many local Las Vegas casinos.) It offers the chance of hitting a huge payoff (for catching either eight or all nine numbers), but also holds out a decent “consolation” payoff with a 7-out-of-9 jackpot.

The 7-out-of-9 jackpot pays a very respectable $335 (for four quarters bet) at odds of about 1690-1. While the 6-out-of-7 jackpot of $400 has a smaller house edge (the odds are about 1365-1), the opportunity to hit the 8-out-of-9 jackpot might make the nine spot slightly more attractive than the seven spot.

While it’s always possible to hit a solid nine spot, most players should realistically hope to hit the 8-out-of-9 award. This one pays $4,700 for four quarters with odds of about 30,000-1.

Note that the odds of hitting the $4,700 jackpot is about 25 percent less than hitting a royal flush on a poker machine, but the payoff is a healthy seven and a half times better!

And, as I noted earlier, there’s a 9-spot progressive that appears inviting. Obviously, the player’s edge increases as the jackpot climbs above the standard $10,000 payout for a solid nine (on a quarter machine).

My Cluster Keno system has been used to hit several 8-out-of-9 jackpots. The clusters or “zones” that were successful include an eight-number column coupled with a single, adjoining number; a solid three-by-three box; nine of 10 on a horizontal row; and a U-shaped pattern with a single number connecting two four’s.

When playing “standard” keno games (not multiple card games), all the usual principles of Cluster Keno applies, including frequently cashing out and starting again; or at least closing out the game, going to the menu screen, then returning to the keno game.

When playing Four Card Keno (you knew this was coming, didn’t you!), I’ve found that it helps to mark several overlapping or adjacent, mirror-like patterns.

That is, I’ll overlap four 3-by-3 boxes, mainly for the reason that many times when you’re playing a single card, the numbers land all around your pattern. Why not anticipate the customary “almost hit” syndrome but extending your pattern through additional tickets.

Of course, multi-card keno games always lend themselves to experimenting. But I’ve found that the best bet is to overlap your cards. This way, when the “shared” numbers hit, there is the increased likelihood of multiple payoffs. Try it with your own numbers and let me know.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: LJ Zahm

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